Tonight was the season 15 finale of Top Chef, with contestants Joseph Flamm and Adrienne Cheatham going head to head in a cooking showdown. Cheatham enjoys creating elevated southern cuisine, while Flamm enjoys incorporating deep-rooted, Italian flavors into his food. During episode 9 this season, Flamm was eliminated, but he fought his way back into the competition by winning Last Chance Kitchen. So, which of the two remaining contestants won Top Chef tonight and took home the $125,000 cash prize? Read on below for our live recap of the finale, along with the reveal of this season’s winner.
Kicking things off, the two competitors met host Padma Lakshmi and judge Tom Colicchio at the top of Aspen Mountain. At 11,000 feet high, the two chefs got the rundown on the guest judges and they were able to choose their sous chefs from the cast-off contestants on the show. Prior to food shopping, each chef, along with their sous chefs, had 30 minutes to decide on each of their four-course menus.
For Cheatham’s first course, she creates a Spoon Bread with Sea Urchin and her second course is a blackened octopus with grits. Her sous chef had never made grits before, but Cheatham seemed confident. Flamm was working on a twist on a classic Italian dish for his first course. For Flamm’s dessert course, he was inspired by his grandmother, for a torte di nornina. Unfortunately, the first batch of the cake came out too bitter. Meanwhile, Cheatham’s team’s octopus is still a bit chewy.
Prior to the day of service beginning, Cheatham and Flamm got to clear their heads and get words of encouragement from their mentors and friends. Four hours before service, they each entered the kitchen with enthusiasm.
When the first course came out, Cheatham’s dish was a show-stopper. For the second course, Flamm incorporated hand-made pasta and judge Tom Colicchio couldn’t get over it. The judges were loving everything involved in the finale meals thus far. Lakshmi said that the competition was very tough, as of the second course. Cheatham was second-guessing herself a bit with the third course. For her, she had a short rib dish, while Flamm had a beef ribeye creation. Flamm was worried about the judges struggling with the beef while they were cutting into it. As for Cheatham’s food, some of the judges felt her black eyed peas were a bit dry.
Though Flamm’s dessert is coming out well, Cheatham’s is extremely well-plated. Cheatham admitted that she doesn’t often do desserts. She presented a banana pudding, which one of the judges called “very intellectual.” With all the dishes presented, it seemed like Cheatham had a little bit of a leg up on Flamm.
The judges were quite torn when it came to deciding which of the two chefs deserved to win the title. Colicchio said that there has been some great food over the years in the finales, but this one would be sticking with him. In the end, the winner of Top Chef season 15 ended up being … Joseph Flamm.